Reader’s Advisory can take many forms, but my favorite is booktalking. The beginning of a new semester is the perfect opportunity to reach out to teachers and offer to do booktalks for their classes.
Last week, I gave booktalks for twelve classes. Each booktalking session averaged three to seven books which can become a management nightmare. I use the following method to organize booktalks so that if teachers wish for me to booktalk more than once to their classes, I can be assured I am not repeating myself.
1. First, I created a spreadsheet of the books from which to choose (and keep adding to it).
The spreadsheet includes the author, title, and up to three genres.
2. Next, I gathered the booktalks I have created (or found) on each title. These are all titles I have read; one of the primary rules I learned in my YA Lit course was to only booktalk books you have read. Creating booktalks is often time consuming, so when I don’t have the time, I use Nancy Keane’s Booktalks — Quick and Simple. I file these alphabetically by title.
3. Finally, I created a simple booktalk chart template that I use for each teacher.
I keep all of this information in my Booktalk Notebook that I keep for reference at the Circulation Desk.
Giving the Booktalks
Once a teacher requests a booktalking session, I confer with him/her to determine a few factors I need to consider as I plan:
1. length of time teacher wants to stay
2. class composition (equal numbers of males and females?)
3. student interests (At the beginning of the semester, teachers often can’t provide a great deal of information, but if they have done interest surveys they might be able to share if any students are in band, chorus, orchestra, student council, or participate in any sports.)
Then I pull together from three to seven books based on teacher information. I use the template to record the titles I plan to do for each class. If this changes (sometimes I can tell from a class’s attitude as they enter the library that I need to change a title or two), I note the changes after the booktalks.
I set up a display of the books I plan to booktalk in front of the Promethean board, and as students enter and are settling in at the tables, I play an Animoto video I created on the current year’s South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees. Brochures on each table provide more information about each of these titles. I end the booktalks with a book trailer and tell the students that they are free to check out the titles I used on the table. It is always SO rewarding when students run to get a copy of the books on the table!
Analyzing the Booktalking Session’s Effectiveness
Often I can tell if a title is going to get checked out as I am doing the booktalk. High school students don’t fake interest in books; their body language speaks volumes. And, bless their hearts, some students are not ashamed to say, “I’m getting THAT book.”
Other ways I use student feedback to help me improve my booktalks:
- A quick look over at the table a bit later as students are checking out books lets me know if a title (or titles) didn’t get checked out. I make a note of this on the template.
- If a title did not get checked out, I discuss the booktalk and title with my service learners and the other media specialist to see if I can pinpoint the reason for lack of interest. If possible, I revise the booktalk before giving it again the next block. Sometimes this works, sometimes not.
- If students ask me if I have more copies of one of the titles I booktalked, I put the title on hold for them and make a note of it on booktalk template.
I would love to read about your booktalking methods and sessions. How do you organize your booktalks and what techniques have you found to be successful?